Goody's 500 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 17, 1998) Notes from Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville Speedway: The Chevrolet camp can finally...
Goody's 500 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 17, 1998) Notes from Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
The Chevrolet camp can finally rejoice. One of its drivers has finally won a Bud Pole Award.
Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet, garnered Chevy's first Bud Pole of 1998 on Friday, clicking off a fast lap of 93.175 mph around the .526-mile oval. He'll sit in front of the field for Sunday's race.
In the first seven races, five Ford drivers and two Pontiac drivers have taken the top starting spot. Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Rick Mast have all put their Fords on the Bud Pole, while Bobby Labonte and John Andretti have held up the Pontiac banner.
Friday's Bud Pole was the fifth time Hamilton has started No. 1 in his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career, but it comes with one distinction: This time, it qualifies him to participate in the Bud Shootout at Daytona in February.
Hamilton started first twice in each of the last two years while driving the No. 43 STP Pontiac, but because of contingency sponsorship reasons, Hamilton has not been eligible to participate in the all-star event at the beginning of the season.
Hamilton, Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader all recorded their best Bud Pole Qualifying efforts of the season. Rudd qualified fourth and will start from the outside of Row 2, while Schrader will start from the outside of Row 3.
Rudd's previous best effort was this year 18th at Darlington, while Schrader's was 14that Bristol.
"I was telling (crew chief) Bill (Ingle) on the radio that I didn't know we could run that good," said Rudd, who ran a lap of 93.065 mph. "I was so scared about missing this race, as close as the field is. We don't have any provisionals way back there in the points, so the pressure is on to cut a good lap. We made some changes right before qualifying. We weren't right like we needed to be, so we made some changes. It was a gamble, but it paid off."
Rudd is currently 32nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. He has three DNFs and no top-10 finishes this season.
Dale Earnhardt's Bud Pole Qualifying woes continue. Earnhardt could do no better than 31st on Friday. The driver of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet has not qualified in the top-25 since he started fourth in the Daytona 500.
On the other side of the ledger, Darrell Waltrip, driving Earnhardt's No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet in the absence of the injured Steve Park, recorded his first top-25 qualifying effort of the year with a lap of 92.438 mph. He'll start 14th on the grid on Sunday.
"That's what you call pulling a rabbit out of your hat," said Waltrip, who has 11 career victories at Martinsville. "We picked up about half a second from practice. Being a new group of guys, I don't know how far to go. I don't know how much to tell them to do. It's their cars. I want to help them. I don't want to hurt them. I made some suggestions and they looked at me like I was crazy. This is what I've always done here and it's worked for me. It worked again today."
Rich Bickle gave the No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley team a boost, qualifying the Ford in 11th position. Bickle, subbing for the injured Greg Sacks this weekend, qualified for his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race this season. Still, Friday wasn't without its tense moments for him and the team.
"The first thing when we got here today we lost the motor," Bickle said. "When I went to start it, a cylinder locked the thing up and we had to change motors. The guys did a heckuva job. We got few laps in (practice) after that, but the biggest problem I had with this car was that Greg (Sacks) is so much smaller than me that the gas pedal is mounted in the wrong spot. They moved it up for me for qualifying, and that made quite a bit of difference. That was a pretty good lap, but if I could have got through one and two like I got through three and four the last lap, we would have been right on it."
Jeff Gordon's victory in last spring's Goody's 500 broke a four-spring race winning streak at Martinsville by Rusty Wallace, who ruled the half-mile track in the spring from 1993 to 1996. It was Gordon's second straight win at Martinsville after his triumph in the fall race in 1996.
Last year, Kenny Wallace sat on the pole for the Goody's 500 with a record qualifying speed for the spring event, 93.961 mph. Ted Musgrave still holds the track qualifying record of 94.129 mph, set in the fall of 1994.
Richard Petty is the all-time winningest driver at Martinsville Speedway in NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup competition with 15 victories. Darrell Waltrip leads active drivers with 11 Martinsville wins, followed by Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace with six each.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus is worth $80,000 to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader if he wins Sunday's race. Rusty Wallace currently leads the point standings, while Penske-Kranefuss teammate Jeremy Mayfield is 24 points behind.
Source: NASCAR Online